BARBRA: Remembers The Great Marvin Hamlisch RIP
One of Barbra Streisand’s oldest and dearest friends, Marvin Hamlisch, died today in Los Angeles, at the age of 68, following a brief illness. Barbra’s friendship with Marvin spanned nearly 50 years, as he was the rehearsal pianist in her first starring role on Broadway, “Funny Girl.”
The two formed a close connection, and in 1973, when Streisand was the star of the film “The Way We Were,” she chose Marvin to compose the score. He also collaborated with lyricists Marilyn and Alan Bergman to created the love song for the film, which became an instant classic and one of Streisand’s signature songs. For his work on the film, Hamlisch won two Oscars that year, and a third as well for his adapting Scott Joplin’s ragtime music for “The Sting.
Soon after, Hamlisch returned to Broadway where he collaborated with Edward Kleban on the Michael Bennett musical “A Chorus Line.” For that, Marvin collected Tony awards and a Pulitzer Prize.
Through the years, Barbra and Marvin remained close friends. He contributed songs for her albums, like “Niagara” on “Wet.” When she did an ACLU benefit for Daniel Ellsberg in April 1973, it was Marvin at the piano, helping her to auction off songs to the celebrity crowd.
In 1993, when Barbra chose to return to the concert stage in years, it was Marvin Hamlisch whom she asked to be the musical conductor. As Barbra pointed out when introducing him on the subsequent tour, Marvin didn’t need the gig. He was there out of friendship and love. When “The Concert” was broadcast on HBO as a television special, it collected a bunch of Emmys, including two for Marvin’s work on the show.
In 1996, Barbra directed “The Mirror Has Two Faces” and again turned to Marvin for the score. Two years later, for an even more personal production, he wrote her wedding theme when she married James Brolin and conducted the orchestra at the nuptials.
As recently as last December, Marvin was Barbra’s accompanist at the women’s heart benefit for Cedar-Sinai Hospital. Today, Barbra issued a brief statements about her good friend:
I’m devastated. He was my dear friend. He’s been in my life ever since the first day I met him in 1963, when he was my rehearsal pianist for “Funny Girl.” He played at my wedding in 1998… and recently for me at a benefit for women’s heart disease. The world will remember Marvin for his brilliant musical accomplishments, from “A Chorus Line” to “The Way We Were,” and so many others, but when I think of him now, it was his brilliantly quick mind, his generosity, and delicious sense of humor that made him a delight to be around. Just last night, I was trying to reach him, to tell him how much I loved him, and that I wanted to use an old song of his, that I had just heard for the first time. He was a true musical genius, but above all that, he was a beautiful human being. I will truly miss him.”